Our event in North London
The International Liberty Association held an event in North London. The vent was regarding the Child Laboring in Iran. The speakers also talked about it including:
Azadeh Hosseini, a mother of two young children and a secondary school head teacher.
Excerpts of her speech at the International Liberty Association event follow:
“I would like to thank you all for being here and for your endeavours in improving the lives of women and children in Iran. My parents came to the UK as refugees when I was three years old, and my sister was just two months old, knowing that Iran was not a place to raise their daughters. Unfortunately, however, for other young women and girls the harsh life under the mullahs is a bitter reality. Trafficking and exploitation of young girls, some the same age as my own daughter, is commonplace. An unprecedented number of Iranian girls are being forced into child marriage as you know, and this is mostly due to poverty.
This issue sparked a renewed wave of outrage in February after an eleven-year-old girl was repeatedly raped after being forced to marry a man forty years her senior, who already had a wife and seven children. Sadly this is not uncommon, and what is worse is that there seems to be little outcry about this atrocity. Child marriage is just one area where the treatment of women in Iran has prompted concerns. Iran is a country where women are harassed to the extent where it is not even safe to go to work, where women are executed for simply defending themselves against rape by those in power. Those who rise up against injustice against women and children are faced with a harsh prison sentence.
As you’ve seen from the videos, not a day goes by without a new clip being shown of Iranian children either selling chewing-gum and other items in order to feed their families, or children playing instruments on the streets to collect loose change to pay for their parents’ medical bills, or other clips where children describe how they take it in turns to go to school with their siblings, as their parents cannot afford to buy them each a pair of shoes. Or there are other videos of mothers and children sorting through rubbish to find food to fill their empty stomachs. As a young mother, it is such things that break my heart into a million pieces, and bring tears to my eyes. Whilst those in power in Iran line their pockets and use the Iranian wealth to fund terror groups, these innocent children are being robbed of their dignity and their youth on a daily basis.
These children are a generation who would be left damaged and broken whose scars will run deep and may never heal.
As a teacher I am left wondering how these children one day will try to overcome the mental and physical scars inflicted upon them. I often remind myself that these could have been my children, with no food, no shelter or shoes to line their sore feet, forced to marry when very young because I had no means of supporting them – oh how life could have been so different for me! What a shame, and how sad it is to be speaking such words in the context of a country with such a proud history and such a proud people, a country whose oil should see to the needs of the Iranian people ten times over. Even thirty-five years ago when my parents left the country, they could not have imagined what would become of the country that they loved, and what would become of the situation of women and children of their homeland.
Fortunately, the work of organisations such as International Liberty Association, whose work I am proud of, brings this to light. We are all here because this issue has touched us in some ways, and I am so grateful to each and every one of you for being here.
I WANT TO BE THE VOICE OF THE CHILDREN OF IRAN
International Liberty Association had an interview with one of the young volunteers, Rosa. She told ILA a brief story about her background and her motivation in helping International Liberty Association human rights campaigns, particularly, Campaign to Stop Child laboring and Forced Marriage.
As you know the “Report” page is a new page in ILA website, and we wanted to have an interview with one of ILA’s young volunteers. So, please tell us about yourself, you study and your hobbies or how you spend your spare time.”
Rosa: “Hi, I am Rosa, 17 years old. I’m currently doing my last year of A-levels. My parents are both British-Iranians and human rights activists. I have been learning piano 10 years ago and I play piano in my free time, and also I do volunteering for the International Liberty Association one day a week.”
ILA: “We appreciate your excellent work here at International Liberty Association.”
You said your parents are both British-Iranians and human rights activists, please tell us more about them?”
Rosa: “My dad was in prison and tortured for 8 years because of fighting for human rights and freedom of speech in Iran. Many of his friends have been executed. My aunt has also been executed. My father still hasn’t been able to move on from the pain and suffering that he has been through.
My dad says the only way to help me dealing with this pain is by supporting human rights and fighting for the people who are suppressed by the Iranian government in our country. My mother also is a human rights activist and we all are hoping freedom for our country like what I am enjoying here.”
ILA: “Do you have any sisters our brothers here?”
Rosa: “yes, I do. I have a very kind brother, Elia. He was born here like me and we have not seen Iran yet.”
ILA: “You haven’t seen Iran! That’s interesting, so tell us what do you and Elia Know about Iran?”
Rosa: “Yeah! Literally our parents aim to keep me and my brother, Elia, educated on the history and culture of our country; a country in which, unlike the UK, the children have to work instead of going school and having fun; a country where, without their consent, young girls are being married off to men the age of their fathers; where children have to sell their kidneys to be able to put food on the table.
When I ask my father why Iran is like this, he says that Iran is a rich country and with proper use of this money it could end all sufferings, however, the people in charge, are exploiting this money for their own use.”
Rosa: “With my parents, I follow the news on what is happening in Iran. My parents would rather me to focus on my studies than to see the evil in my country. Despite this, I feel obliged to see what is happening to kids my own age in my own country. Just like Maryam Akbari and Soheil Arabi who can’t be with their children, I think that if I was in Iran I could be in the same position as those children. The children of Iran don’t deserve this. Just as my parents put so much of their time and energy in helping them, I want to do as much as I can to be the voice of the children of Iran.
ILA: “Rosa, thank you very much for your time and your hospitality. We wish you all the best at your education and your fight for human rights and a better future for the whole world.”
Rosa: “I should thank you and the International Liberty Association that established these opportunities for people like me who want to do something to support human rights and end the suffering of people whose rights have been violated.”
THE HUMAN RIGHTS PRISONER IS THE MOST VULNERABLE PERSON
International Liberty Association held a social event in Waterloo on 21 September, this year, and the Human Rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, was the keynote speaker at the event.
According to the International Liberty Association’s reporter; “During the half-hour long speech Mr. Robertson laid out the case for the need to hold Iranian regime authorities to account for the crime against humanity they committed in the summer of 1988.
The 1988 massacre was against defenseless prisoners of conscience whom he described as “the most vulnerable” persons. Excerpts from his speech appear below. (ILA)
Let me make a beginning from here. The prisoner, human rights prisoner, is the most vulnerable person because he or she is at the complete command of those in authority… To commit crimes against humanity, which comprises the worst sort of crime, is the killing of prisoners. On July the 29th, 1988, the worst example of the worst of all crimes happened in the prisons of Iran. … The Ayatollah issued a fatwa. Now, on the 29th of July, prisons throughout Iran went into lockdown. The radio wasn’t heard, no newspapers were allowed, prison visits were canceled, and trips to the infirmary were stopped. Prisoners – the only visitors that came to those prisons – Evin, and other prisons in Tehran and all over – were black BMWs with what later was termed a Death Commission, three officers of the state: one, a judge; one, a prosecutor; one, an intelligence officer. At Evin, where most of the prisoners in Tehran were being kept, you had as the prosecutor a man named Raisi; as the intelligence officer, renowned for always voting to execute, you had a man named Pour-Mohammadi. Now, what happened then was that all the prisoners in this category were called up and waited outside the door of the makeshift courtroom.
International Liberty Association reporters that Mr. Geoffrey Robertson continued: “There were two exit doors; they were brought in from the front, and there were two exit doors, one to the right and one to the left, and the prisoner was brought in, and [they] said: “What is your allegiance?” And if the prisoner honestly said “the organization” or “the MEK,” the order was: “Take him to the left.” If the prisoner crumpled and said “I’m a hypocrite, a monafeqin,” he was taken sometimes to the right, sometimes; otherwise, for one reason or another, he was taken to the left, usually because the intelligence officer, Pour-Mohammadi, had decided he wanted everyone taken to the left. Taken to the left, a queue was blindfolded, hand-whopped, hands tied behind back, and led in a conga line to the auditorium of the prison, and there were six ropes hanging and they were strung up, six at a time. There was another group taken to cranes that were outside the amphitheater; four nooses to every crane, four at a time. Thousands of people in this way were killed on the 29th or 30th.
It is worth mentioning that according to many human rights organizations, the International Liberty Association has reported that 30,000 prisoners were executed in the summer of 1988, in Iran.
Mr Geoffrey Robertson added: “It was the worst crime against humanity committed against prisoners since the Pathan death marches in the Philippines of American and Australian servicemen by the Japanese at the end of the war. Those Japanese who ordered that barbaric treatment, to march prisoners to death, were executed in the Tokyo trials. There was a similar situation of course in Srebrenica, when seven thousand Muslim men and boys were executed by the Serbs.
They were imprisoned, but only for a few hours; these, this was a crime against people who’d been kept in prison for seven or eight years, and in many cases were melikesh, had served their sentence. This was a brutal execution without a trial, without an appeal, without mercy.
How is it that when every other crime committed in this world since the Second World War has had some prosecution, some retribution, this has not had any? And the relatives, the families of those who were killed in this barbaric way have not been allowed to mourn. They’ve not been told the location of the mass graves in which their children were put in them.
I think it is important that either the Security Council give a direction to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to develop a case in relation to the mass killings in Iran, or, it could be, but these people up for trial in absentia, in their absence, because we’ll never get them out of Iran while the government stands. But one way or the other, it has become crucial, I think, to the development of human rights law that some retribution, even if it’s only retribution in absentia, should be visited on these people. Set up a prosecutor, set up a court that can hear the evidence that can shame them, that can articulate what happened in those prisons in 1988, so that, hopefully, it will not happen again, so that the world can see what kind of people run this country. Only by telling that truth and having it widely appreciated can the other horrors that this regime is perpetrating be called out. So that would be my plea, that this is the worst of crimes against humanity since the Second World War, nothing has been done about it and now the United Nations, which failed in 1988 to do anything, must step up and do something, because even by authoritatively putting out the evidence, that is one way that the truth can come out. Thank you (applause).
What International Liberty Association is doing regarding the 1988 Massacre is: “…telling that truth and having it widely appreciated can the other horrors that this regime is perpetrating be called out.”